Hillary Clinton Says Russian Misinformation Campaign Was "Guided" by Americans

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Hillary Clinton

The former Secretary of State also joked about Donald Trump's "covfefe" tweet and stressed the importance of the media.

Hillary Clinton believes that Russia did not act alone in its effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. 

The former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee on Wednesday told the crowd at the Code Conference at Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., that it was "fair to ask" how the Russians knew where to direct a campaign designed to spread misinformation during the election. "The Russians in my opinion ... could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided" by Americans, she said. 

Those comments came after Clinton encouraged the room full of tech and media executives to read the intelligence report declassified in January that concludes Russia was looking to influence the election. "Who were they coordinating with or colluding with?" she questioned. 

Asked to elaborate on who she believes helped direct the Russians' efforts, Clinton pointed to the contact between members of President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. "I hope we'll get enough information to answer the question," she said, though eventually acknowledged, "Yes, I'm leaning Trump. I think it's pretty hard not to." 

Trump himself responded to her comments via Twitter on Wednesday: "Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate. Hits Facebook & even Dems & DNC." 

Clinton's appearance at Code is part of a recent return to the spotlight since her defeat in November. Last week, she gave a commencement address at Wellesley College and she is also currently on the cover of New York magazine. On Wednesday, she spoke passionately and bluntly about the election and the future of the Democratic party. 

One way in which Clinton thinks the Democratic party can improve before the next election is through the creation of more content that supports its cause. She noted that the Republican party has historically focused on building institutions that can help spread its message, pointing to Fox News and the conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group, which recently announced plans to acquire Tribune Media Co. Democrats, Clinton then explained, often give money to candidates instead. "We are not good historically at building institutions, and we need to get a lot better," she said. "That includes content. We have a great story to tell."

Clinton also spoke in praise of the media throughout the interview, though she did call out Facebook, saying that the social network needed to do more to curate news and to "help prevent fake news from creating a new reality." 

Later in the talk, interviewers Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg asked Clinton what she made of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' purchase of The Washington Post in 2013. "Jeff Bezos saved The Washington Post," she responded, pointing to the paper's recent flurry of investigative pieces about the Trump White House. "Newspapers still drive news." 

The conversation also inevitably turned to Trump's Tuesday night tweet, in which he ended a sentence with the typo "covfefe." Not leaving the jokes just to Twitter, Clinton said of the tweet, "I thought it was a hidden message to the Russians."

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